Thus began the article in Business Lexington, announcing the winners of the 2006 Best Places to Work in Kentucky competition. The Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce sponsor the rankings each year along with the support of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The program is a multi-year initiative to motivate companies in the Commonwealth to focus, measure and move their workplace environments toward excellence. Best Companies Group surveyed 41 finalist companies which were identified for the final review from hundreds of entries from across the state of Kentucky. More than 17,000 companies were eligible for the award. The winners were revealed at a gala awards ceremony in March at the Lexington Convention Center.
“The ranking starts at 20 and works its way to the number one company,” said Wally Bateman, one of several Paducah Bank staffers and board members who waited with high hopes and rapid heart rates as the countdown moved from 20 to 15, then to the number 10 winner and then to the number five winner! “At that point, my heart was racing and my breathing was shallow!” laughs Susan Guess, Director of Marketing for the bank. “We sat together at our table, constantly looking to one another as each name was ticked off the list. When the number five company was announced, we were all elated that we hadn’t been called as yet. And then we became nervous,” added Wally, President of Paducah Bank. “We were so close to the top spot at that moment that we experienced an emotional roller coaster. We certainly would not be disappointed at being chosen in the top five, but suddenly we were in the running for the roses and, like always at Paducah Bank, we wanted to be number one!”
And number one they were! Based on an assessment of the bank’s employee policies and procedures and the results of a confidential internal employee survey, ModernThink LLC of New York, the selection company, placed The Paducah Bank and Trust Company at the top of the list for the state’s best place to work among medium-sized companies (those with 25 to 199 employees). “Accepting this award as the number one best place to work before a group of 850 people from the very best companies across Kentucky was truly an honor that I cannot describe,” remembers Joe Framptom, CEO of Paducah Bank. “It is hard to imagine a small company like ours in a small community in western Kentucky coming out on top of all that excellent competition. And yet, when I fully consider the hard work and determination each member of our staff has dedicated to our customer service initiatives, particularly these past few years, it really isn’t surprising that others were able to clearly identify and applaud the kind of excellent work culture we have established at Paducah Bank as a result of the individual contributions of a terrific bunch of people.”
As do all companies, Paducah Bank faces the constant challenge of recruiting and keeping great employees. About four years ago, the bank decided its best strategy was through “service” and decided to learn from the best, the Ritz Carlton. Enrolling in the Ritz Carlton Leadership Training program, the CEO, President, Director of Marketing and Director of Human Resources took what they learned and brought it back to the bank. The senior leadership team felt it was imperative to engage the employees in the process of incorporating the Ritz Carlton information and creating their own service vision. Ten teams of employees consisting of four to ten people each worked on different elements of the overall culture. At the end of the year-long process, the employees had created five overarching Core Values—People, Moral Soundness, Culture, Independently Owned, and Community Involvement— and 15 “Basics” designed to put the Core Values into action. “It’s the best thing we’ve ever done since I’ve been here,” commented Joe Framptom, an 22-year veteran of Paducah Bank.
In order to permanently cement this new culture and set of behaviors into the organization, “Owners’ Meetings” were created. Every day at 8:30 a.m., every employee at every location attends a five-minute stand-up meeting. Susan Guess, Director of Marketing, provides a week’s worth of scripts to each location and each employee takes a turn running the meeting. “This gives us a definite structure and helps continue to set expectations,” explained Maurie McGarvey, Director of Human Resources.
About four years ago, the bank added a new element to their culture: Jim Collins’ book Good to Great. “Joe Framptom read the book and then bought every employee a copy of it. The employees were broken up into discussion groups to talk about the book and how it applies to our culture. Now every new employee gets a copy and participates in a reading group with our other new employees. It’s become our bible,” Maurie McGarvey commented.
The employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is also a key to this culture. The employees make up one of the largest blocks of owners of the bank. “Our employees are very sensitive to how much things cost and how we manage operationally. That makes for a very productive and conscientious staff,” Maurie added.
The conclusion to Paducah Bank’s employee orientation video best sums up why the bank is the best medium-sized company to work for in Kentucky. “While profitability is a necessary condition for our existence and a means to an important end, profitability is not the end in itself for a visionary company. It is our Core Values that give us a sense of purpose beyond just making money and serve to guide and inspire everyone throughout the organization.
It is our belief and understanding that the people of Paducah Bank and their work ethic, strength of character, and commitment are the critical components to our enduring success and our journey to greatness.”
WOW! Great place to bank and great place to work!